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Thursday, July 28, 2011

GF Lemon Meringue Pie

Got a hankerin' for some good old fashioned lemon meringue pie.  However, when you have to eat gluten free, you can't just pick up a pie at the grocery store or order it at a restaurant.  I'd been thinking about it for some I consulted my Gluten-Free Baking Classics (2nd edition) cook book by Annalise G. Roberts for a suitable crust recipe.  This is the Tart Shell recipe, which tasted great and was easier to make than a traditional crust - no rolling.  Just cut the butter into the flour mixture and press the mixture into your pie pan.  Ms. Roberts suggests baking the shell one day and filling it the next to breaks up the work load, and avoid having the oven on for such a long time.  Being a hot day, I heeded her advice.
Betty Crocker provided the recipes for the filling and meringue.  The filling recipe called for lemon peel.  Having had bad experiences with orange peel and lemon peel in the past, I bought some at Penzy's Spices so I wouldn't get a strong aftertaste.  I considered omitting it...but usually don't change a recipe the first time I make it.  So in it went.
Ya know what's funny about spreading meringue over pie filling?  The filling is fluid, so it smooshes around under your spatula.  Its much easier to spread meringue from the edge to the center, than the other way around.  That's probably why they pipe the meringue on commercially prepared lemon meringue pies.
A couple hours after it came out of the oven, an unexpected visitor arrived - which gave me the perfect excuse to cut into my pie.  It was still a tiny bit warm and extremely lemony.  Incredibly flavorful - unlike any commercially prepared lemon meringue pie I've ever had.
The next day I had a few more visitors, and we polished off the pie.  By then it had chilled overnight.  I was a little dissappointed that the filling didn't firm up more.  After trying it a second time, I realized I should have omitted the lemon peel.  It left just the tiniest little aftertaste. 
So if you're using a Betty Crocker (new and revised in 1981 - LOL) cook book to make a 9" lemon meringue pie filling, add 1 more TBSP cornstarch, one less TBSP melted butter and omit the lemon peel.  Though making the shell, filling and meringue from scratch was quite a bit of work, it was truly worth the time and effort! 
Later this summer I intend to try the chocolate eclair/cream puff shell recipe in the same GF cook book.  More GF baking adventures to follow!  :)

Flooding in Galena

Oh no!!!!  If you have plans to visit Galena, IL any time soon, please call ahead. 

I visited and blogged about the Phat Quarter Quilt Shop ( earlier this summer.  Just learned it's been flooded with a foot and a half of water.  The De Sota House has 8 feet of water.  Consequently, the upcoming Galena Quilt Show has been postponed until August 20 & 21. 

Thanks to Carol, Sue and Karen at Hidden Quilts ( in Platteville for passing the word along! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

R & J Blocks

I've been playing with ways to work up "R" and "J" blocks that I could slip into the Quodlibet Quilt, without being too obvious.  Each of these blocks will be surrounded by a narrow black lattice, so I laid out the left side to complete the Rs.  I want these blocks to be subtle - and with all that is going on in the Quodlibet Quilt - you would have to know to look for them.  Then once you see them, you'll wonder how you could have missed them!  But SHHHHH....don't tell RJ!

As I was piecing away, I realized I had just designed and executed my first homegrown paper piecing project.  I've only done paper piecing once before - and that was with a quilting instructor there to help.

I'm not sure how many blocks to make.  The pattern is for a 57 x 74" quilt, but I need to make it extra long cuz the recipient is about 6' 6".  I own a bunch of quilting books, but none of them say how large a king size quilt should be.  I've seen patterns for queen size quilts ranging from 90-102 inches long, so I'm a bit perplexed!  Am open to suggestions....

Keep quilting!  :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Quilting Again

Today I got to do some quilting for the first time in a looooong time.  Hooray!  Most of the remaining funky rails will be done in light fabrics.  They're not difficult, but there sure are a lot of them - and they come in four different sizes. 

The chevrons were a little tricky.  The pattern called for piecing a whole lot of narrow strips...but when I saw this striped fabric, I knew I could save considerable time.  It also provided a palette to round out the red, black, white and cream shades I had already selected.  If I make this quilt again, I'd mix up the pieces so the left and right side of each chevron are not a mirror image of one another.  Makes it more interesting.

This round of quilting may have to last me a while.  The weather man says it should cool off soon - that means I'll need to work outside.  Gotta make hay while the sun shines!  :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hosta Heaven

Today I visited what seemed to be a slice of hosta heaven.  Its really called Hosta Garden Companions, run by Tom and Mary Riddle in Madison, WI.  The Riddles have a large display garden with over 200 varieties of hostas and other shade plants.  They can provide you with design ideas, and will even do "installation." 
There is the small pond with a trickling water fall.
This gazebo shades the miniature hostas for sale.
All the plants are named, so you know exactly what you are getting.
I was intrigued by the small hostas.  I only recently learned there were miniature varities.  I purchased the one in the foreground called Dragon Tail. 
Here are the standard sized plants for sale.  So many to choose from!

While I was there, a young girl was playing in the garden, winnying and galloping about.  I presumed she was pretending to be a horse, but that proved to be far too ordinary.  She was pretending to be a unicorn - and I thought what a wonderful, magical place for making childhood memories!

The Riddles have a fantastic virtual tour on youtube (which is much better than my amateur photography):

There is a sale running July 22-24 from 8:00-5:00.  To contact them directly call 608-772-2791 or email them at  They are located at 1809 Waunona Way.  So check it out if you are in the area.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quodlibet It Is!

After playing with lots of ideas, I settled on the Quodlibet pattern for my next project.  I even got to putz around tonight and made my first block.  I don't have a lot of black and red on hand, so fabric shopping will come next.  It'll be fun to hunt down some wild prints.

This quilt will be for a nephew that goes by RJ.  He's at summer camp, so he hasn't seen any of the potential designs.  His mom and grandma really like the idea of making a quilt with his initials in it - as do I.  So I played on EQ6 and figured out how to work them into this quilt, in place of a few of the funky rails:

This is gonna be a lot of fun!

Wednesday Wellness - MyPlate to MyCart

As you probably know, USDA replaced MyPyramid with MyPlate. 
 (If you haven't heard, check it out here:

As I was buying groceries, I wondered "What if I divide my shopping cart into sections and see how my diet stacks up?"
Fruits?  Check.  Veggies?  Check.  Do they take up half my cart?  Check.
Dairy?  Check.  Whole grains?  Check.  Protein? 
A little light on meat - but had stuff at home in the freezer - so check.

I try very hard to keep junk food out of the house, and to have lots of healthy stuff readily available.

But what's that in the bottom right corner of the picture?  Some discretionary calories?  OK, I confess.  Those are ingredients for a gluten-free Boston cream pie - which I'll whip up one of these days.  Gotta live a litte, now and then. 

At any rate, you might want to try this experiment the next time you shop.  Who knows what you will discover about your diet?  :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mid-July Lawn & Garden Report

While laboring in my yard for the last month in the heat, I began to ask myself "Do other people get this nutty about their plants and yards?" 
Then I visited relations on July 4th, and again this weekend - and realized the summer yard tour is a long and cherished tradition in my family. 
Many of my early memories involve gardening activities. 
So, I come by it honestly enough.  If that makes me kooky, so be it!

FYI - when I moved in to this house, this side was nothing but hard, dry, rocky bare earth.  One day last summer, DS2 came in from mowing and said, "Mom, I'm SO proud of you!"  Of course, I asked why and he said the ugly side of the house was now green and beautiful!   Ahhh - the stuff that mothering memories are made of!
I'll be dividing the hosta and lillies pictured here NEXT spring.
On the back side is a gorgeous rust and yellow leafed  plant that I'll split next year and move to the front flower bed.  I'd tell you the name if I could remember it.  I bought it on impulse 2 or 3 years ago and plunked it in wherever I had some extra space.  While weeding this bed, I realized I approach gardening much the way I do quilting.  I start with one clear idea of just how everything should be.  Then my creative juices get flowing and I tire of doing the same thing over and over - so I abandon my plan and throw in something totally unexpected - just to see if people notice!
My front flower bed was overrun with ferns and ground cover.  You could barely see my impatiens or perennials.  So I pruned it all.  I'm learning the hard way that SOME forms of ground cover are not worthwhile.  The one I am most happy with is my evergreen vinca in the hosta bed, which I supplemented with a dozen additional plants last night. 

FYI - if you remember my surprise to find wild strawberries growing there, I eventually determined that they were an ornamental variety - cute to look at, but they tasted terrible!  That made it a LOT easier to rip them all out.
This flower bed around my lamp post will also be thinned next year.  Its only 3' in diameter and contains tulips, irises, black-eyed-Susans, clematis and one yellow hosta.  The roots for all of the above are intertwined so its anybody's guess how that will turn out!
These hostas were divided and planted a month ago.  I'll also be putting in a border - but not until the weather cools off!   This may be an even be an early fall project.
I inherited this ring of hostas from the previous owners, and have never thinned it.  Maybe next year.  Very few plants are willing to grow beneath the pines, so my boys put in a rock wall (visible only in early spring) to create a raised bed in the center.
Here's a close up of my purple impatiens, nestled between the hostas and ferns.

This, ladies and gentlemen, concludes the July photographic yard tour. 
Thank you for coming.  Please stop by for future updates.  :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Still More Designs

 I love the look of these RJ quilts,
but I'd probably go bonkers making those intricate blocks.

I like the visual impact of this one. 
The mitered corners would be a challenge. 
Might have to paper piece it, for accuracy.

Yikes....EQ is addicting!

More Designs...

Still testing ideas for a quilt featuring black and red.  So many choices!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Black & Red Quilt Ideas & Quodlibet

Had a request from my 17 year old nephew for a black and red quilt.  Been wanting to do something traditional, like a Log Cabin...or something new (to me, at least) like working on point.  Spent some time putzing around in EQ6, and came up with about 20 quilt designs.  Here are a few:
Basic Rail Fence with 4 Rails
Same thing, but on point.
I love the symbolism behind the Log Cabin square - both that the red or yellow center represents the hearth of the home, and that it served as a beacon for the Underground Railroad.  Homes that hung Log Cabin quilts on the line let weary travelers know they could take safe harbor there.
Black and Red Barn Raising
This is a Court House Step block, elongated into a rectangle, and staggered like bricks.  It won't do for this particular project, but resembles Chinese lanterns.  Would look amazing in Asian prints.
Now THIS one strikes my fancy.  It could be done from assorted reds and blacks.  Maybe even jungle prints...if they make red ones, that is!  This one also appeals to me in that I could work on it for short periods of time.  It's beautiful in its simplicity. 

I'm also considering is the Quodlibet pattern, which I'd been admiring for months, and decided to purchase it at my LQS.  Sooner or later, I'm going to make this quilt.  Here's what it looks like:

So many quilts to make, so little time! :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Jack-in-the-Pulpit & Other Fun Stuff

Here is my Jack-in-the-Pulpit.  I've been coming home from work each day, wondering when the blossoms will open?  Then a friend told me that they open by day, and close at night.  So this weekend I snapped this picture.  Pretty cool, huh?

The last post of my backyard showed logs that weighed more than I do, and a huge stump.  What you can't see is that I had a second stump ground up as well.  Also had a tree on the side of the house trimmed and thinned, so the side and front lawn also took a beating.  I started dividing hostas in front, which eventually became an enormous task - I divided and gave away around 100 plants!  Rearranged the hosta bed, hauled many loads of mulch from back to front.  Then filled in all the holes in the lawn and reseeded.  Bottom line: No quilting going on lately - but I think that's about to change.
Between lawn and garden projects, I attended a wedding.  See the littlest boy?  I made him a baby quilt two years ago.  He carries it everywhere.  See the biggest boy?  Now he wants one too!  :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy Fourth of July - 2011

An annual Madison tradition is Rhythm & Booms on the Saturday closest to July 4th.  The pictured fighter jet is one of four that fly over at the end of the Star Spangled Banner.  The fireworks are set to music of all sorts - popular, classical and of course patriotic.  This year one of the first songs was the Circle of Life, with fireworks that actually looked like a lion's face and mane.  Very fun and very cool!

See:  :)